I get a lot of emails from people that come to the site and want some info
on their Dodge trucks. So I sat down and wrote answers to a lot of the
questions I get asked. I didn't do this to discourage emails, because I
enjoy hearing from other Dodge 4x4 guys, but I hope this helps some
folks out there who otherwise might not be able to get the info they need.
Please note that none of this is "set in stone" but rather general guidelines.
There are always exceptions. So don't hold me responsible if you try to
fit a certain size tire on a certain size lift and it doesn't fit! There are too
many variables to predict every possible lift and tire combination.
What size tires can I run on X inches of lift?
For 94-01 Ram ½ tons, you can run 33x12.50’s stock if you use wheels with 4.5 inches of backspacing. With two and three inches
of lift, you can move up to 35’s on the same wheels.
|35"||2 or 3 inches of lift|
|36"||5 inches of lift|
|37"||7 or 8 inches of lift|
|38x12.50||8 inches of lift|
|38x15.50||10 inches of lift|
|39"||10-12 inches of lift|
|40"||12-13 inches of lift|
15 inches of lift
18 inches of lift
figures are all approximate. It should be noted that regular cabs can run a
larger tire than extended/quad cabs because of the decrease in weight. Regular
cabs tend to net more lift from a kit than an extended cab will. ¾ ton and 1
ton trucks usually sit 2 or 3 inches higher and therefore would require that
much less lift to clear a specific size of tire. Also note that by extending the
control arms, you can run a little larger tire or just have more room for the
same size tire you were going to run. Our suspensions are designed so that the
tires are closer to touching the rear of the front fender wells than they really
should be. You can either cut the fender up or get longer arms to remedy this.
How much lift can I put on before I have to replace steering components?
The border is at 3 inches. If you go taller than that, you need to look at replacing the pitman arm and track bar mounting bracket. You can run stock steering on 4 inches of lift for the time being, but as things wear out, upgrade to 5 inch components.
What is the difference in an Offroad Edition Ram and a regular 4x4?
The Offroad Edition was only produced for a couple of years, before Dodge went to the new body style. The only differences between Offroads and regular 4x4’s are:
4.10 gears and a rear trac-lock
Heavy duty towing package which includes a transmission cooler
1.5 inch lift, plus larger 32 inch tires, giving 1.75 inches more lift
17x8 aluminum 5 spoke wheels and 275 GSA's (32 inch tires)
Extra skid plates
Trussing on front Dana 44 axle
Larger (not longer) nitrogen shocks
Badge on tailgate
These are the only differences. If you try to order suspension parts, some places will even tell you that their lift does not fit an Offroad Edition. That is not true. It will fit, but you won’t gain as much lift as you would on a regular 4x4. A 5 inch lift is the same on either truck because when you do a suspension lift, you cancel out what makes the Offroads taller (stiffer coils and one extra leaf in the leaf pack).
What gears do I need with my X size tires?
If graph does not load properly
This is a matter of personal opinion; however, there are some general guidelines regarding RPM’s. Most people prefer the following, based on a V8 gas engine:
33’s – 4.10 gears
35’s – 4.56 gears
37’s – 4.88 gears
38’s – 4.88 or 5.13
40’s – 5.13 gears
42’s – 5.13 or 5.86 gears
44’s – 5.86 or deeper
You can only go to 4.56 gears on ½ ton Dodges due to the rear 9.25 axle. There is rumored to be a 4.88 gear out or coming soon but it has been in the making for several years now.
A lot of folks say that going lower than 5.13 is not a good idea because the pinion is so small that it can break much easier. This may be true in a rear Dana 60 application, but in the Dana 70 and 80's, the pinion is still very large and strong and we have not had one break to date. So don't be afraid to go lower. If you break something, you can tell me to correct this. :-)
Will a 15 inch wheel fit my truck?
If you own a 94-99 Dodge ½ ton, you can fit 15 inch wheels without modification. However, on the 2000 and 2001 models, you will need to grind the front brake calipers down slightly in order to fit 15 inch wheels. The more offset/less backspacing you have, the better as far as this is concerned.
How hard is a suspension lift to put on?
It depends on the kit. The Skyjacker 5 inch is not a hard kit at all. You can do it in one day if you have a friend helping out. A run down on the kit is that you replace the pitman arm, drop the track bar, add a bracket for the upper control arm that will keep it more level, replace both control arms (be careful with the cam bolts, they get frozen sometimes), install sway bar drop brackets, new coils, shocks, and that’s it. For the rear, you either add a leaf or do an entire new spring pack, then shocks. On ½ ton trucks, you can remove the driver’s side leaf pack without dropping the gas tank. You just slide the bolt out far enough to drop the front eyelet and you are set. You cannot do this on ¾ and 1 ton Dodges since the leaf packs are ½ inch wider.
The Skyjacker 7 inch kit is considerably harder, because you have to drop the transfer case and reindex it in order to keep a good angle on the front driveshaft. The 7 inch kit can take a couple of days to install but the only differences are the reindexing ring, new crossmember, and of course the long arm brackets. Everything else is basically the same. For more information on the transfer case and crossmember modifications, please visit my transmission swap page: http://www.djgaston.com/offroad/aps.htm
The Dick Cepek 6 inch kit is the most involved, although it’s not hard. This is a long arm kit and you will need to do some cutting. It is regarded as the most complete, best made kit, but since you cut some brackets off, it is hard to go back to stock once you have installed this kit.
How hard is a body lift to put on?
A body lift is very easy on our trucks. The hardest part is getting the bumpers lined up and then the shifter linkage. You need to pull the shifter linkage (transmission shifter) and cut it in half, then weld in an extension. You will not be able to drive until this is done. The rest of the kit is a simple bolt on installation that should only take half a day ideally, or a full day at the most. Some body mount bolts can get seized up and cause you problems, but that is about the only thing that goes wrong consistently on body lift installs.
What is the best way to put together a suspension lift?
Most people will agree that you can piece together a superior suspension lift, rather than buy one, and save money doing so. If you buy the Dick Cepek long arm kit ($450) and then buy some Skyjacker 7 inch coils and the Extreme drop pitman arm, then a ThurenFab or DT Pro Fab track bar with the 6 inch drop bracket, you will have a superior front suspension for much less money than you would normally spend. You can either ditch the sway bar, get some sway bar drop brackets, or get some RockKrawler quick disconnects (adjustable). For the rear, Deaver spring packs are the best, but you can buy Skyjacker leaf spring packs as well (6 inch pack). You can run up to 10 inches of suspension lift on the Cepek arms with barely any signs of the axle being pulled backwards.
Where do I buy the Dick Cepek long arm kit?
You can get the front box kit which includes the frame brackets, four long arms, hardware and a nice set of stickers directly from Dodge Off Road's online store.
What axles do I want for my axle swap?
What do we all want? A Ford high pinion Kingpin Dana 60 front from a 77, 78, or 79 Ford F250 or F350. They are the ultimate front axle for those of us with driver side pumpkins. However, they require a bit of work to make them go under the truck since they are setup for leaf springs and such.
The most desirable front axle is the Dana 60 from a 94 to 02 Ram 3/4 ton. The 96 and 97 year models are the only ones that can be upgraded to manual locking hubs, which gets rid of the weak unitized hub bearing assembly. The 00 and 01's have 32 spline axle shafts though and dual piston calipers, whereas all others from 94 to 99 have 30 spline axles and single piston calipers. For the rear, you want a Dana 70. And if your truck is a 98 or newer (99, 00, 01), you will want to get one from a 98 or newer 3/4 ton truck because you have to have a tone ring in your rear axle for your speedometer to work. If your truck is older than a 98, you can put practically any axle in the rear. In that case, a Dana 70 or GM/Corporate 14 Bolt is a great choice. Both are very strong. The 14 bolt is probably cheaper to build.
What about a Dana 60 rear? Well, you can get a rear Dana 60 from some 94-97 ¾ ton Rams, but the only thing you gain from doing that is a better gear selection, a full floating axle, and 8 lugs. The 9.25 actually is rated stronger than the Dana 60 rear for weight and torque handling but it does use C clips to hold the axles in place and that is a weak point. So just try to find a Dana 70. They are physically bigger and much stronger. You do not want a Dana 80 rear axle because they are overkill and tend to get hung up on rocks or other obstructions very easily. If you get a Dana 80, plan on running some huge tires to keep the differential off the ground! Take what you can get, but the 60/70 combo is the best!
What is the largest tire size I should run on my ½ ton axles?
You can pretty reliably run 35 inch tires on ½ ton axles. The rear axle is very strong, however the weak Dana 44 hybrid front axle is not. It’s weak point is the unitized hub assembly. If you run tires larger than 35’s, or if you wheel with 35’s, you might be replacing hub assemblies frequently (once a year or more). There are lifetime warrantied ones you can get, and since the assemblies are expensive, this is the only way to go. You can usually run a 37 inch tire on ½ ton axles without much worry but you will need to learn your limits. What kills these axles is when you start spinning the tires and then they hook up finally, you can snap the small front axle shaft very easily. If you plan to run large tires at some point, try to buy a ¾ ton instead, or just start saving up for new axles. Having a big truck with big tires is no fun if you can’t use it because you are afraid your axles will break in half.
Copyright 2001-2010: Danny
Gaston, Dodge Off Road, LLC
Last updated: June 03, 2010